Monday, March 30, 2015

Weekend Away

We got to have a mini-vacation over the weekend! James had to be out of town for work for the second weekend in a row, so this time we tagged along. It was honestly quite exhausting, but good times were had. We stayed in Carbondale and our hotel had a pool, which the boys loved -and I got to wear my new maternity swimsuit for the first time :) Silas also started saying some new words over the weekend! He said truck, book, neck, milk. and fork. Although each time he says fork, it sounds like he's dropping the *f* bomb.
these two love water :)
We got there on a Friday and went to SIUC so James could set up his booth for the home show. When he was finished, we went out for dinner at Pagliai's pizza. We hadn't been there since Jacob was a newborn! The boys did really well, considering it was close to bedtime. And they were each given a ball of pizza dough to play with until our food came. Jacob was playing with it like play dough and Silas didn't waste anytime before tasting it. 

After dinner we went to Walmart for a couple things. All four of us. This may sound lame, but it was really nice going to the store all together! Our life has been so busy for the last nine months that I either run errands during the day with the boys or go at night once they're in bed. But this time is was all of us. It was already just after 7pm (the boys' bedtime), so we kept them entertained by racing through the store finding each item we needed as quickly as possible. James pushed Silas in a cart and I pushed Jacob. This was a first for them and they loved it. Jacob said it felt like he was in a race car :)

Saturday was a long, full day. James was at the home show from 9am-6pm. So did lots of things... We swam in the hotel room. Had a little lunch in our room. Took a nap. Went to the Science Center in the mall. Visited Daddy at the home show. Jacob made a pull-back race car in the Lowe's Kids' construction Zone. And the each got something from the balloon guy: Jacob a monkey and Silas an airplane. We all went to bed at the same time and slept really well. (Which was a blessing, because we all didn't sleep so good the first night.)
putting on a show in the puppet area
the metal part was constantly spinning, he
would put different sized washers on it and
watch as they get flung to the side.
digging for bones


this was a big attention keeper for them! until about 15 minutes later when Silas got bored and started eating the little plastic pieces.

"Hi, shishie. Shishie. Shishie, hi."
saying "hi" repeatedly, as if he were waiting for it to respond :)
He LOVED petting the rabbit. I was grateful (and surprised) that he was gentle. 
building the race car

he was so proud to hold up his finished piece. "Let's go show daddy!"

On Sunday, James only had the home show from 11am-5pm. It was nice to have a slower start to the morning. We had breakfast, packed everything up, and just chilled out. It was good down time for the boys, too. I love this picture. My belly is the perfect size for Silas to lean back on as if it were a pillow :)

We took James to the home show about 11am and went back to the Kids' Construction Zone. They had told us there would be a different project, so Jacob was excited to return. We were the first ones there and walked it the room. Jacob said, "I came baaack!" The Lowe's people laughed and welcomed him :) I'm so proud of Jacob. He wore the little safety goggles and held the little hammer. He's also doing really well at learning how to follow step-by-step directions by filling the numbered steps and identifying which piece and size nail is needed.

building a birdhouse

Next we headed to a park the balloon guy told us about yesterday. Castle Park is just outside of Carbondale. It's a privately funded park that parents of a 19-year-old, who passed away in a car accident, raised money for and built. Their son loved the Dungeons & Dragons video games, so it was built to look like that. I am not familiar with the games, but the park was interesting. There was a wooden castle you could walk and climb through with many different directions you could go in. We didn't stay in there too long because I had a hard time keeping an eye on both boys and I was pretty nervous if I couldn't see Jacob. So we walked around the rest of the park. There was a huge dragon people could climb on and Jacob definitely got his exercise!

We left the park and I hadn't been driving 2 minutes when Silas fell asleep! We were checked out of the hotel, so I drove for a little over an hour before he woke up. That was hard, I would have much rather had taken a nap myself! We tried to go to another park, but it was getting to cold and it was so windy Silas was nearly blown over a couple times. The boys were cold, I was exhausted, and we still had two hours to burn until James was done. I decided to look up what was playing at the movie theater -something James had suggested the day before, but also something I surely thought I wouldn't do! Ha ha. The movie Home was starting as I was looking. We were only 5 minutes from the theater (and remember, I was desperate!), so we went! Silas didn't understand what we were doing, but Jacob was so excited. We bought our tickets, grabbed a bag of popcorn, and sneaked in a few minutes after it started. I was so thankful (and surprised) that they both sat through the movie. -Which was probably only because it was super-fast paced, fast music, lots of colors , and just over-stimulating in general. Oops. It was an okay movie and when it was over it was time to pick up Daddy, grab Subway for the car ride, and head home!

at the park where Silas was being blown over.
Jacob watching Tangled while Silas naps.
Running down the hall of the mall after the movie.

Silas trying to climb up to pet the picture of the cat!
Jacob at home today, proudly wearing his apron with badges earned for building his race car and birdhouse!
We also learned from this trip that Lowe's has a Build and Grow program for kids (5+ yrs recommended) on select Saturday mornings where they can come build a little project. Best part is that it is free! I think we will be making time for these little workshops because he loved it! And he's pretty good at using a hammer :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Labor Day (a little late :)

I am pretty sure we hadn't had family pictures officially taken since Jacob was Silas' age. Oops. Life happened and we just got busy. How nice it was though to get these pictures and see how much our family has changed since then. We've added one, soon to be another, and have all grown in hard, stretching, beautiful ways. Introducing: my family :)

"Don't smile Jacob, no laughing, either." -worked quite well.

I can't believe how big he is. When he sits in my lap his head can no longer fit under my chin. It hurts my back to carry him. He is so strong and fast. He is smart. He is 4. He loves his brother so much. And it makes my heart cry tears of happiness that he is excited to be a big brother, again.

This is what it was really like having family pictures taken. I was trying not to stress out at the lack of the boys'  understanding of what we were trying to accomplish and instead embrace their excitement for being in a new place to run and play. And they did run and play, lots :)

Classic Silas. He is 1 1/2. He is a wild child. If we would have had him first... I mean, he is spunky. He prefers adventure. He is a risk taker. How can one little tiny person stretch your limits so far yet your heart has grown larger than ever imagined just upon meeting him? 

I'm pretty sure he was asking me with his eyes why in the world was I letting Bubba take off with him in the wagon. 



Jacob looks exactly like James did as a child. And Silas will eventually grow into his teeth :)

love my family :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My lemon went to Omaha!

My husband was out of town for work all last week in Omaha. The night before he left, he was packing his things and I was trying to be a good wife by not telling him which oils he could and couldn't take with him on his trip. He took the lemon! I had just run out of my lemon sugar scrub and didn't get to make more before he left :( this lemon scrub is the only face wash/scrub I have found that doesn't irritate my skin or cause me to break out. I love it because it is inexpensive to make and it WORKS. I use it at night and don't have to reuse it in the morning. The main reason I use it at night is because lemon is photosensitizing. This means you should avoid using on skin exposed to direct sunlight or UV rays. Using it the night before, gives the lemon time to basically soak into your skin and wear off. 

I also love to use the scrub on my legs. I rub it in to exfoliate, then rinse it off. There is enough moisture left to where I don't need shaving cream, I can just shave my legs! And afterwards you don't even need lotion :-)

I combine all ingredients in a glass jar and keep it in the bathroom. This recipe usually last me about a month. Here's my recipe:
  • Himalayan salt - 1/4c
  • Sugar - 1 3/4c
  • Coconut oil - 1c
  • Lemon essential oil - 10-15 drops (this oil is only 5¢ a drop!)

In case you are interested, here's some info about the ingredients!

Himalayan salt is a pink salt which comes from the heart of the Himalayan mountains. It contains the full spectrum of 84 elements and trace minerals. This salt is completely different than traditional table salt, which is so processed that it is void of any possible nutrients. Himalayan salts cleanse and detoxify the skin – which make it perfect to add to a facial or body scrub. Along with cleansing, Himalayan salt balances the pH in your skin. For me, this meant less redness and irritation on my face – which makes me less self-conscious if I don't wear make-up. 

You probably know that's not good for your body to consume refined sugar, however, it's great for your skin! Sugar is a natural humectant, meaning it draws moisture from the environment into the skin. So using sugar as an ingredient in this scrub, it actually helps hydrate your skin. Sugar is also a natural source of glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is typically used to treat sun damaged or aging skin because it encourages cell turnover and generates fresher, younger-looking skin. Finally, and the most obvious, sugar is an excellent topical exfoliant. 

Unrefined coconut oil contains fatty acids and has many medicinal properties. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are metabolized differently than long-chain fatty acids. When consumed, they go straight to the liver from the digestive tract where they are converted into energy. (I'll write another blog post later about why I add coconut oil into my morning smoothie!)  One reason why coconut oil is great for the skin is because it contains lauric acid. Lauric acid can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. -Which is great for acne prone skin or just a clearer complexion in general! You may think that by washing your face with an oil, your face would be left "oily", but that's not the case. When rinsed well with warm water, coconut oil leaves your skin with just the right amount of moisture. 

Lastly, lemon essential oil! I prefer to use Young Living essential oils because I know their seed-to-seal promise. This promise means that from the very beginning - even when seeds are selected - to when they're planted, harvested and distilled, there are no chemicals, additives or alterations. This promise makes me feel safe to use their products on myself and especially my children. Did you know that lemons contain a supply of vitamins and minerals that is greater than any other food? Lemon also has the ability to clean toxins from any part of the body. There are many properties of lemons, some of which are: antifungal, astringent, anti-inflammatory, immune stimulant, diuretic, and expectorant. Lemon is also great for acne and many types of skin conditions. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease

Another shout out to my main man, Thieves! I am currently aware of three different cases of Hand-foot-and-mouth Disease that is going around. In case you're not aware what this disease is, it is a mild, yet highly contagious, viral infection that is common in young children. The symptoms include sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet. There is no immunization or specific treatment for this disease. And the symptoms usually clear up in 7 to 10 days. Ten days of having painful, red, blister-like lesions on the tongue or gums can seem like an eternity for both the child and parents.

However, Thieves essential oil can shorten and heal it much faster. It is a blend of highly antiviral, anti-septic, antibacterial, anti-infectious essential oils. Thieves was created from research of a group of 15th century thieves who rubbed oils on themselves to avoid contracting the plague while they robbed the bodies of the dead and dying. When apprehended, these thieves disclosed the formula of herbs, spices, and oils they used to protect themselves and exchange for more lenient punishment. 

In 1997 Weather State University in Utah demonstrated it's killing power against airborne micro organisms. One analysis showed a 90% reduction in the number of the gram-positive Micrococcus luteus organisms after diffusing for 12 minutes. After 20 minutes of defusing, the kill-rate jumped to 99.3%. The ingredients in the Thieves essential oil blend are: clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary.
  • Cloves is the most anti-microbial and antiseptic of all essential oils. It is anti-fungal, antiviral, and anti-infectious. 
  • Lemon has antiseptic like properties and contains compounds that amplify immunity. 
  • Cinnamon bark is one of the most powerful antiseptics known it is strongly antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal. 
  • Eucalyptus is anti-infectious antibacterial antiviral and anti-inflammatory. 
  • Rosemary is antiseptic and antimicrobial. It is high and cineol – a key ingredient in antiseptic drugs. 

How do you use Thieves to treat hand-foot-and-mouth disease? In a glass bowl, dilute one part essential oil to four parts coconut or olive oil and rub into the affected area. (We use coconut or olive oil because these are "carrier oils". They aid in carrying essential oils through the skin for healing.) For sores in the mouth and throat, massage into neck and side of face. Because viruses like to cling to the spine, also massage into the spine. Repeat this application three times a day. To make this easier with children, you can prepare this mixture ahead of time and keep it in a glass jar on the counter so you can just rub your child with it when he/she is in their chair at meal times. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ice-bucket Challenge response, sort of...

I am not going to lie, I've gotten some pretty good entertainment from watching so many people have ice cold water dumped on them. I think it's great to see awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis spreading so quickly across the world.

My husband, James, graduated from Dupo High School in 2004. As a student he was a member of Air Force Jr. Reserve Officers' Training Corps and was taught by Chief Master Sgt. Donald L. Blanchette. "Chief" served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm and retired after twenty-three years of service. After which he went on to teach ROTC at Dupo from 1997 to 2008. I have heard so many good stories about James' time with Chief. And I finally had the privilege to meet him about one year ago at an ROTC reunion I attended with my husband. Although it was neat to go and meet people he went to high school with, the purpose of the reunion was to honor Chief Master Sgt. Blanchette. Chief had recently been diagnosed with ALS and the disease was progressing quickly. By the time I met him, he was already wheelchair bound, unable to walk or move his arms and legs. He was a very friendly man, smiling and talking with his former students. I didn't even know him, but it was so sad to think that this well-accomplished man only had a short time before he would no longer be able to turn his head, talk, and eventually swallow or breathe. It was hard on James to see someone that he had such good experiences with, and learned so much from, to be dying slowly with no way to stop it. Chief passed away May 20, 2014 after his battle with ALS.

I remember meeting a red-head in physical science at Collinsville High School, probably in 2001. Since I never graduated from high school, I'll just tell you that Nikki graduated in 2005. She is one of the sweetest, most enjoyable persons to be around, and quite smart. And even though we haven't been as close since we have each started our families, I still think of her as my best friend. We've known each other through many awkward phases and break-ups from bad boys. Sometimes I wish we could go back to the days of playing broom ball or sand volleyball until midnight. I knew her mom and her aunt. And as the years went on and I started working at a local hospital in 2007, I got to know her dad. Darin was an IT Tech at the hospital and I worked in the lab. He was always happy and would tell lame jokes and was just plain easy to talk to.

In January 2009 I had the honor to be in Nikki's wedding. And Darin was so sweet! It was his only daughters wedding and he selflessly prepared all of the food for the wedding reception! It was my job to make sure he knew when to come up from the church basement to see his beautiful daughter walk down the isle! Four and half months later, Nikki was in in my wedding and Darin was our personal chef. It was wonderful. And everybody loved the food :)

We moved to Carbondale had a baby, and moved back eighteen months later. I started working at the hospital again. Nikki had a baby. I had another one. She had another one. I quit my job when baby #2 came, so I haven't seen Darin since then.

Earlier this year, a friend from the hospital asked me if I knew that Darin had been diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy. At the time I didn't know exactly what MSA was, but from what I knew, it wasn't good. My heart sank for my dear friend. The relationship that I have with my dad means the world to me and I can't begin to imagine all of the thoughts and feelings she and her family are having. I have been a horrible friend as of late because I haven't brought it up. Even when I know it stares them in the face every day. I haven't asked about him because I don't care. I care a lot. I care so much that when I am at home playing with my boys and I start thinking about it I just start to cry. I hurt for them so bad. I hurt for the loss my friend is experiencing in a slow and painful way. What I need to do is grow a pair and talk. People need people to be real. To experience life with them, to share joy, to help carry the burden.

ALS and MSA are similar, but here is the difference: ALS is a neuromuscular disease that destroys motor neurons whereas MSA is a neurodegenerative disease that destroys motor neurons. ALS is usually more aggressive than MSA, but both diseases are a devastating battle ending in death.

I originally thought I would expound more about why I am choosing to not do the ice bucket challenge, but I'm actually going to leave that part pretty short and sweet. I don't have all of my facts straight yet, but from what I've been reading, the ASLA may support embryonic stem cell research. I think stem cell research is an brilliant discovery and has helped MANY people already. It is truly amazing how God created the human body and how stem cells can, for example, be taken out of a knee and injected into the back of the same person and those cells just go right to work, transforming into the cells needed to promote healing. That's probably one of the reasons God made them! I just cannot, in good conscience, support embryonic stem cell research. I think IVF is awesome because once the embryo is made, it is then implanted into a uterus to CONTINUE its formation into life. But to fertilize an egg to create an embryo and then never implant, but end the process of life that has already begun? I just can't do it. I would love to understand more where the ALSA stands exactly on this topic. Until then, I will find a way to donate to ALS/MSA research without funding embryonic stem cell research. And I continue to pray and ask you to pray for Darin and his family :)